Time to Edit the Haitian Constitution?

  • Posted on: 24 October 2007
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
Blog Tags 2 Terms: 

Is a Constitution a living document?  If it cannot be changed, does this make it more relevant or does it become less relevant as a people, country, and its government changes?  There is a tradition in Latin America of scrapping and re-drafting Constitutions entirely.  Some countries have had more than fifteen in their existance. 


We dont believe Haiti needs a new Constitution, however as Mr. Senou pointed out on Corbitt's List, there are compelling reasons to modify certain sections, for the betterment of the country.  It is worth discussing the merits of his proposal as there are mechanisms to do so, if the Haitian government wishes to explore this possibility.


Haiti's diaspora has become vast.  Of course, there are large Haitian populations in Miami, New York, Boston. There are now sizeable populations in Washington DC, Chicago, and other cities as well.  But the diaspora is global, with pockets in France, Canada, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Switzerland and other countries as well.  The diaspora has expertise, resources, and knowledge that could benefit the country. 


As it is, Haitians lose their nationality by becoming naturalized in another country.  He or she, in effect, becomes Dyasp and not Haitian.  He or she may not run for office, despite the fact that some demonstrated leaders within the diaspora have shown a strong desire to do so.   With so many Haitians having one leg in Haiti, and one leg in another, this needs to change.  Globalization may yet work to Haiti's benefit, but not if the global diaspora is not empowered to work for the betterment of Haiti.  Haiti needs (read: relies on) their funds, but we also need their voice, ideas, connections, and ability to praise the government when warranted and criticize when justified.   As with the disapora from El Salvador, they should be able to vote. 


The symbolism of such a measure would not be lost on the Diaspora.  The constitution should facilitate governance and not impede it.  These changes should be considered.

Mr. Senou's proposal is listed below.  We welcome your thoughts.






The Haitian Constitution Needs to be Ammended


The Haitian Constitution needs to be amended. In amending the constitution, I urge the players to take a good look at these two articles below and do the right thing. Regardless of the outcome, we still love you and we will still assist you. Our love for

you is a natural love and we love Haiti unconditionally.


I read and reread articles 13 and 15 and I wish the wordings could have been different; in the coming months or next year, when you start debating, please, take again another look at these two articles. There is a procedure in place to amend the



Article 13: Haitian nationality is lost by:


a) Naturalization in a foreign country;

b) Holding a political post in the service of a

foreign country;

c) Continuous residence abroad 


Haitians without duly granted authorization by a competent official. Anyone who loses his nationality in this manner may not reacquire it.



A naturalized Haitian may recover his Haitian nationality by meeting all of the conditions and formalities imposed on aliens by the law.



Dual Haitian and foreign nationality is in no case








On the recommendation, with reasons given to support it, of one of the two (2) Houses or of the Executive Branch, the Legislature may declare that the Constitution should be amended.


ARTICLE 282-1:

This declaration must be supported by two-thirds (2/3) of each of the two (2) Houses. It may be made only in the course of the last Regular Session of the Legislative period and shall be published immediately throughout the territory.



At the first session of the following legislature period, the Houses shall meet in a National Assembly and decide on the proposed amendment.



The National Assembly may not sit or deliberate on the amendment unless at least two-thirds (2/3) of the members of each of the two (2) Houses are present.


ARTICLE 284-1:

No decision of the National Assembly may be taken without a majority of two-thirds (2/3) of the votes cast.


ARTICLE 284-2:

The amendment passed may enter into effect only after installation of the next elected President. In no case may the President under the Government that approved the amendment benefit from any advantages deriving therefrom.


ARTICLE 284-3:

General elections to amend the Constitution by referendum are strictly forbidden.


ARTICLE 284-4:

No amendment to the Constitution may affect the democratic and republican nature of the State. Please, read this quote below:


Let me not be understood as saying that there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in force, for the sake of example they should be religiously observed.


Abraham Lincoln

16th president of US (1809 - 1865)

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